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Future Freight Networks : Yearbook 2011
42 Lance Hockridge Managing Director and CEO, QR National Network Services Stephen Cleary (Former) General Manager of Freight, Qantas Airways Paul Little AO Managing Director, Toll Group Hockridge presented a positive overview of the achievements of QR National since its public float, indicating that retail investors had enjoyed a return of the order of 25 per cent. However his major focus was on the challenges of the future – for QR National as well as the nation. He emphasised the importance of focusing on the big picture issues and maintaining a national perspective, highlighting the need for infrastructure investment, improved efficiencies and more streamlined national regulations. There was a real priority, he said, to focus on safety, customer needs, ongoing innovation, and getting the transport and logistics sector right post-GFC, for Australia to make the most of the mining and energy boom. Little said in his address that private equity has sometimes led to poor outcomes for the T&L sector. On occasion, prices had been pushed up without any real operational value being added. He expressed some concern over Australia’s over-reliance on a thriving resources sector, while much of the rest of the economy is comparatively weak. Little sees one of his most important roles as managing risk, and opposes over-regulation and a lack of flexibility when it comes to wages, arguing that they should be more aligned to how well the industry is performing at any given time. He also drew attention to the changing nature of supply chains as a consequence of the digital revolution. With some three per cent of domestic consumption from online sales currently, he suggested that the percentage could be as high as 10 per cent by 2020, and that this would affect supply chains globally. While the Qantas freight business operates around the world under various brands and across modes, a crucial part of the business is centred on Asia. Post-GFC there was a boost in freight volumes as part of a general re-stocking, but figures have now resumed more normal patterns. Volumes, however, are on the increase, especially in Asia. A major challenge is safety and security – air transport is a demanding business. Another major challenge is realtime progress data for customers, and Qantas has made significant investments in this area.